The Phoenix Suns may be just two games away from the NBA Championship, but the team’s home is already undergoing some changes.
The Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Real Mallorca announced Friday a new partnership with Footprint, a Valley-based material science company dedicated to reducing single-use plastics. The partnership will include naming rights for the arena and product integration in the hopes of building toward a carbon-neutral, plastic-free venue.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Footprint to reduce the arena’s dependency on single and short-term use plastics by making Footprint Center a hub for sustainable products and packaging,” said Suns, Mercury and Real Mallorca Managing Partner Robert Sarver in a prepared statement. “It was important to us to find a partner that could truly make a positive impact in our community and on the planet, and Footprint is a global leader that is also Arizona-based and therefore shares our commitment to the Valley. Integrating Footprint’s plant-based fiber technology into our core business functions will mobilize partners and fans to drive collective and systemic change, in our arena and beyond.”
As fans return to the newly named Footprint Center for sports games and concerts, food will be served in the company’s biodegradable, compostable and recyclable products. The center will eventually become a “living innovation lab” for fans to learn more about how they can help the planet. The partnership will also forge solutions that can be scaled outside Footprint Center and across the industry. Footprint hopes to get the arena’s other third-party vendors on board as well.
The first change fans will see will be plates, packaging, utensils, coolers, and other single-use plastic items that can be replaced with Footprint’s innovative plant-based technologies. Footprint Center will also feature recycling and compost containers, not trash cans, which will be serviced to make sure the recycling loop is complete.
“We have a unique opportunity with the Suns, Mercury and Real Mallorca to transform sports and entertainment experiences where fans can enjoy their food and drinks in sustainable packaging and learn more about how they can make changes in their daily lives to get rid of single-use plastics,” Footprint CEO Troy Swope said in a statement. “Together we’ll create a living innovation lab of new ideas for consumer feedback, new opportunities for our customers, and we can educate fans in a way that will create a ripple effect outside the arena. Today is just the beginning.”
This partnership builds on the arena transformation that began in 2020, and has included more than 8,200 tons of material being diverted from a landfill, 757 tons of plastic and metal being recycled, new LED lighting in all finished spaces, new energy efficient mechanical systems with economizers for more fresh air, and reused and recycled materials used throughout the arena.
The arena previously transitioned to solar through partner APS in 2012, one of the first venues to do so.